Today’s guest is both a wonderful writer and a very dear friend. I met Claudia at a local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) when I was new to Colorado. To be honest, didn’t have many friends at the time, so when Claudia was introduced as the guest speaker and called ‘someone anyone would be lucky to call friend,’ my heart was hopeful. Well, I am lucky, because since that time we’ve become very good friends indeed. Claudia has generously offered to give the first three books in her series AFTER-SCHOOL SUPERSTARS to one lucky winner. Comment on the blog to be entered to win and Retweet and share on Facebook for more chances.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
The After-School Superstars series is targeted to third-grade-ish readers. When I was that age, I loved school. I really, truly did. I loved school so much that I even crossed off the days of summer vacation until school would start again in September. It wasn’t so much that I loved learning, though I did and still do (I grew up to have a day job as a philosophy professor, after all). I loved all the side adventures of school: intense friendships, comic misbehavior, field trips (ooh!), and recess play. With the last name of Mills, I acquired the nickname, inspired by the cereal company, of General Mills, so I created my own playground army with only one other member, my friend Kimmie, who had to serve as private under my command for my planned skirmishes with the boys. I loved it all! As a result I have published dozens of school stories, so many that I decided it was time, with this new series, to branch out to after-school stories, set in an after-school program of my own invention that offers much of what I loved about school, (minus tests and grades!).
What inspires you?
In crafting stories, I am inspired so heavily by memories of my own intensely remembered childhood experiences: a best friend who betrayed me by liking someone else better (the seed of Nixie Ness, Cooking Star); fears of disappointing my mother’s expectations of me (the seed of Vera Vance, Comics Star); irritation when my one-year-younger-than-me sister “copied” me in any way (the seed of Lucy Lopez, Coding Star). I remember these feelings as if they happened yesterday and write to find my own way of working through them decades later.
What is something you hope your readers take away from reading your books?
Of course, first and foremost I hope young readers just have fun vicariously engaging in the after-school camp activities I’ve created: cooking and baking, making their own comic books, and exploring the challenges of computer coding. But I always hope they will learn some small-but-important truth about the world, and about themselves. I share only truths that I myself had to struggle to learn: that it’s all right to have more than one “best” friend (Nixie Ness); that it’s worth it to try to find a way to help others understand what you love and why you love it (Vera Vance); or that you are allowed to love what you love even if someone else (such as a bossy big sister!) thinks she has first claim on loving it (Lucy Lopez).
What can we look forward to next?
I’m excited that the fourth and final After-School Superstars book comes out in August of this year: Boogie Bass, Sign Language Star. But I’m REALLY excited that after publishing several chapter book series over the past decade (including Franklin School Friends, the Nora Notebooks, and now After-School Superstars), I ventured into completely new territory for me by trying the literary form of the verse novel. My first verse novel – The Lost Language – will be published this October by Holiday House. I have fallen head over heels in love with learning how to write verse novels! So I guess, like my childhood self, I do still love learning new things.
Claudia can be reached at: Twitter: @claudia_cmills Facebook: Claudia Mills
Instagram: claudiamillsauthor Website: claudiamillsauthor.com